GATX 412

We all have favorite freight cars that we think about, collect information on and consider building some day.  I have  more than a few of these projects. It could be referred to as a “bucket list”.   The one thing I have found is that the list changes from time to time.  Years ago my bucket list had things like milk cars and coal hoppers on it.   A little bit later my list changed to see the milk cars go away and Midwestern equipment and old wooden passenger cars pressed into mixed train service.  I am always amazed on how modelers can follow a single prototype in the same scale for many years.   It is not something I have been blessed with.

NATX 6604 Ambrose (6)

In recent years, I have become very interested in wine tank cars.  The first cars I remember seeing was in the middle 1960s in the Central Valley of California.  Wine as a commodity was rail-hauled since the early 1900s.  It seems to have ended in the middle 1960s.  Wine comes in a sorts of types and quality.  Much of what was hauled by rail, was a lower grade product that was bottled in the market area served.  Wine cars came in different configurations ranging from single compartment, two, three, four and six compartment designs.  My favorite cars are the six compartment (domes) types.   These cars were built by General American Tank Car and American Car & Foundry.

Fresno Yard

There are significant differences between the AC&F and GATC designs.   AC&F frames have channel side sills and lower running boards.  Their design featured insulated domes with vents on the top.  AC&F physical dimensions of the underframes: 9′-3″ wide by 40′-11 1/8″ over end sills, 30′-5″ truck centers. Tank dimensions: 66″ inside diameter by 34′-10 1/2″ long, wrapped with 2″ fiberglass insulation and 1/8″ jacket. Dome size: 47 3/8″ diameter by 10″ high.  Ed Hawkins provided this information.

The AC&F Features are shown below:

acf partial annot

GATC CharacteristicsThe General American Tank Car design shows major differences in the dome design.  The external vent can appear on the dome top or side.

The photo below shows a GATC car with diamond tread running boards and the topside dome details.  The dome is insulated which required a flanged top plate.  Kyle Wyatt took this photo of a car that belonged to the California State Railroad Museum.  The museum had to dispose of equipment a few years

Sierra Exif JPEG

Kyle Wyatt

back which sent this car to the Illinois Railroad Museum in Union, IL.


What is lacking in my information collection is details on the  GATC 6-compartment cars.  I have been looking for things like tank diameter, dome height and dome diameter.  I didn’t get to the car in Sacramento while it was in the museum collection.  GATC underframe drawings are readily available but the tank is another matter.   I have been told that the tank dimensions do vary between orders.

Construction will have to wait until I get more information on the GATC tanks but I will start working on the AC&F car.   This would give me an opportunity to use the Protocraft California Dispatch Lines decals.  CDLX provided wine cars to shippers on short-term and long-term leases.

CDLX 335 (6) IScdlx art

Time to drag out the styrene and start hacking away.

Happy Trails,



7 thoughts on “PROTOTYPE INFORMATION: Wine Tank Cars

  1. Gene,

    Of particular interest are the National B1 trucks under the CDLX car.

    Dan Reagan


    • Bulk wine or spirits were shipped to customers in various parts of the country. There were resellers or packagers in New York City, New York state, New England, Louisville, Kansas City and many other locations.
      Glad you enjoy the blog.

  2. AS an aside, while eating at a pier side restaurant in Chile with my wife, a large tanker docked. We were told that that tanker was owned by Robert Mondavi, USA vintners. They were going to load wine for blending in a USA plant.

  3. Gene,

    Here is a picture of a recently repainted wine car at Train Mountain in Oregon. (The car is not complete.)

    I have close-up photos of the car before it was painted, if you are interested.

    Hugo Meisser

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